Monster Beverage (MNST) wants your business, ladies.
Drinkers of Monster's beverages tend to skew male, but the energy drink company is going after female consumers with new products designed to compete with Starbucks' (SBUX) frappuccino.
Monster plans to "introduce products that are less formidable, less intimidating," Chairman and CEO Rodney Sacks said at the Beverage Forum conference on Thursday, outlining several channels for growth. "We're obviously looking at a brand that will probably appeal more to the female consumer," with a lower energy content and fewer calories, he said.
One such existing product, he said, is Java Monster, a canned coffee drink that competes against a Starbucks double espresso shot. The product has the full energy load of a Monster drink but resembles coffee.
Monster also plans to finally launch an enhanced water, Hydro, and a frappuccino-adjacent Caffe drink. The Hydro launch has been delayed, leading Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog to express "concerns about the ability for Monster's new innovation to have any meaningful impact on sales this year, suggesting the recent slowdown in the energy category may persist."
Monster shares are up 2.1% in 2017, lagging the broader stock market, as the slowdown in energy drinks has taken hold.
"Water is growing, particularly value-added water," Sacks said. Hydro adds an energy element but in a lighter formula, according to Sacks, so it's more drinkable and has broader appeal.
Monster is also partnering with Dunkin' Brands' (DNKN) Dunkin' Donuts, debuting a frozen energy drink at Dunkin' Donuts locations that contains a full can of Monster Energy.
The Corona, Calif., company is also examining how it can capitalize on the better-for-you, wellness-focused food trend.
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"Consumers think healthy but don't act healthy," he said. "The question and challenge will be how do you develop an energy drink, then take a niche healthy product or formulation and try to extrapolate that and get that to be big enough to make a difference to the brand." One place beverage makers have struggled, he said, is in organic beverages.
"In the health food channel, in Whole Foods (WFM) , they do well, but when you take them into the mainstream, they really don't seem to have the legs."
Part of that health focus is simply branding the product correctly. Sacks pointed out that Monster offers several zero-calorie drinks but doesn't advertise them as diet products.
In addition to new products, Sacks said Monster is also expanding into new channels with the aid of Coca-Cola's (KO) distribution muscle.
In 2015, the cola giant closed on a 16.7% equity stake in Monster in exchange for a net payment of $2.15 billion and the two companies swapping their energy and non-energy portfolios. The deal has provided Monster with access to Coke's massive bottling and distribution system. Sacks noted Monster did business in 10 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) before signing the Coke agreement and is now up to 50 EMEA countries.
"Ask Coke, I'd love to be in their fountain system," he said. However, he cautioned, "Fountains are challenging." Consumers of energy drinks are careful to measure their energy consumption, and Sacks also said he's concerned about Monster's ability to maintain its premium image.
The energy drink market is still robust even light of its recent slowdown.
According to Euromonitor data, the market expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.6% through 2020, with international growth expected to account for 86% of the total. International energy drink consumption will increase to 78% of total consumption by volume, up from 76%.
That's a tremendous opportunity for Monster, which books 63% of its sales in dollar terms in the U.S., despite the country only accounting for 24% of the market by volume.
Editor's Pick: Originally published April 28.